Dawn broke in Ketchikan as it always does in summer, with the roar of seaplanes taking off and landing in the Tongass Narrows and the diesel clamor of salmon seiners slipping in and out of port. The leg four crews of the Mother Goose boats awoke to join the commotion with steaming cups of coffee and fresh doughnuts in hand, kindly delivered by the crew of Aquila. By 8am the whole flock was in the channel, weaving north past cruise ships against a knot and a half ebbing tide. Our route would take us North around 40 nautical miles to the isolated hamlet of Meyers Chuck.
As we steamed away from the commotion of the Ketchikan waterfront the narrow channel began to open up and busy wharves fell away to silent spruce clad hillsides, while from snags by the shoreline the occasional bald eagle kept a stern watch on our passage. Crossing the mouth of Behm Canal, our radios crackled to life as the navy broadcast the presence of a military exercise to our starboard beam. After some careful searching with binoculars of the horizon, we were able to spot the conning tower of a partially submerged submarine –always an exciting sight and a first for mother goose!
Farther north as we cruised up the coast of the Cleveland peninsula towards Meyers Chuck, Captain Rich initiated a man overboard drill for all the boats, tossing a float into the water and having each boat in turn perform a rescue. Happily, all the crews successfully saved the life ring before it succumbed to hypothermia, the crew of Eldean were amply rewarded for their valiant efforts when they discovered that the crew of Aquila had surreptitiously attached a can of beer to the float! Farther along, we got to a see an active logging operation just south of Ship Island, with large hemlock and spruce trunks being loaded onto a barge for the trip to the Ketchikan mills.
Just after one in the afternoon, the crew pulled in to the government dock in Meyers Chuck, the town nestled safely into a bight in the coastline and surrounded by small sheltering islands. We rafted three abreast to save room on the dock, and a short while later set out to explore the town and surrounding area. Cassie, one of the few residents of town, opened up for us the tiny gallery which displays and sells locally made handicrafts and jewelry. Kathy on navigator found a gorgeous cutting board made from an old plum tree, others browsed on the wild berries which grow just off the porch. Our walk took us through town, past the quirky art and jungle gym built between the trees and to a rocky beach on the far side of town. There we found amongst the tide pools hundreds of busy hermit crabs, cryptic brown sculpin, green anemones, and a host of the other fascinating creatures that live between the tides.
Late in the afternoon the dinghies of Telita and Aquila headed off to set their crab pots, arriving back just in time to join the rest of the group on board Deception for a social hour as the sun dipped towards the horizon and a light overcast began to drift over the cove. Night brought calm to the bay, and one by one the cabin lights winked out as the stars began to wheel overhead.